Early Postoperative Recovery Comparisons of Superior Capsule Reconstruction to Tendon Transfers

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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery


Background: The management of massive posterosuperior rotator cuff tears is controversial, with no gold standard. Two recently developed techniques that have shown promising initial results include arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) and tendon transfers (latissimus or lower trapezius). However, there remains a scarcity of studies examining each procedure's early postoperative clinical outcomes individually or in comparison to each other. The purpose of this study is to compare the early postoperative recovery outcomes of tendon transfers (TTs) to SCR.

Methods: Using the surgical outcomes system global database (Arthrex Inc.), we assessed the postoperative recovery outcomes for all patients who had outcomes recorded at least 6 months after SCR or TT. The time points analyzed included preoperative and postoperative (2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years). The outcomes analyzed included pain visual analog scale (VAS) score, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Standardized Shoulder Assessment Form (ASES) score, VR-12 physical, and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation (SANE).

Results: Overall, 163 patients underwent SCR and 24 arthroscopically assisted TT. The mean age for SCR and TT was 60 and 56 years, respectively. Postoperative recovery curves demonstrate that both procedures produced improved outcomes at each postoperative time point compared to preoperative. The pain and functional outcomes measures, including VAS, ASES, SANE, and VR-12 physical, were comparable for TT and SCRs, with similar recovery curves between the 2 techniques. Ultimately at 2 years postoperatively, there were no significant differences between the 2 techniques.

Conclusions: Analysis of the early outcomes associated with arthroscopic treatment of massive posterosuperior rotator cuff tears demonstrated that the arthroscopically assisted tendon transfers and arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction had similar pain and functional outcomes throughout the 2-year postoperative recovery period. Overall, the process of recovery appears equivalent between the 2 techniques. Future studies are needed to assess the outcomes of each technique and specific indications in an attempt to delineate an algorithm for the treatment of irreparable rotator cuff tears.



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Superior capsular reconstruction, irreparable rotator cuff, latissimus dorsi tendon transfer, lower trapezius tendon transfer, massive rotator cuff, shoulder tendon transfer, surgical outcomes